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The different types of flexible working

The Different Types of Flexible Working

Flexible working is a rather generic term which can apply to a wide range of working arrangements. It may relate to a change in the number of hours worked (e.g. part-time as opposed to full-time), the times of work (i.e. shift patterns) or even the place of work (e.g. homeworking).


If a full time member of staff wishes to go part time, they can make a flexible working request. Part time work simply means fewer hours than whatever is considered full time work in a particular organisation (normally between 35 and 40 hours per week).

Compressed hours

A compressed hours contract allows an employee to work longer hours on most days in exchange for extra days off. This could entail working a couple of extra hours each day Monday to Thursday and having Fridays off - or it may involve a similar arrangement on a fortnightly basis.

Zero hours

This increasingly popular yet somewhat controversial type of contract doesn’t guarantee any hours of work to an employee. Although this introduces a significant degree of flexibility for the business to deal with lulls in trading, it can also engender feelings of job insecurity and result in motivational issues amongst the workforce, so it should only be used when appropriate. A zero hours contract may oblige employees to accept any work whereas a casual work contract will leave it up to them to decide.

Annualised hours

Most often used where shift work is required, annualised hours guarantee a certain number of hours of work over the whole year but introduce an element of flexibility concerning when these hours are actually worked. This can be an advantage to businesses which have fluctuating resource needs, so that staff numbers can be allocated in accordance with demand.

Term time hours

Businesses in the academic sector - as well as those that want to cater to the needs of employees with children (who prefer to spend the school holidays at home) - can offer an employment contract with working patterns which tie in with term times (but note that non-parents must be treated equally).

Job sharing 

A rather innovative type of employment arrangement, a job sharing agreement involves two members of staff who are both essentially working part-time but, together, provide a full-time resource to fulfil a specific company requirement.

Shift and night work contracts

Only certain companies will have shift or night work requirements, but these types of employment contract can be useful for certain employees who are looking to change their working patterns.


Introducing an element of flexibility to work a set number of “core” hours in the form of a flexi-time employment contract can help to give employees a better work-life balance and enhance staff morale. This is essentially a full time contract where strict office hours are unnecessary.


Tech-savvy employees are increasingly coming to expect a degree of flexibility when it comes to their place of work. Many professionals can perform their jobs primarily using a laptop, mobile phone and Wi-Fi, whether it’s from the office, their home or a coffee bar. Some companies encourage or even require their staff to work remotely, either occasionally or full-time, in order to save costs on office space.

We have a full range of flexible employment contracts. These can be downloaded from our Employment Documents Folder. Click on the relevant links below for further information.

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